A system for study and measurement of the attachment in vitro of exogenous polyribosomes to membranes has been presented. Its main features are use of low temperature, post-microsomal supernatant, pyrophosphate and citric acid to remove ribosomes from the surface of rough endoplasmic reticulum, and a method for quantitative separation of unattached from membrane-associated polyribosomes. The following were found. (1) Rough endoplasmic reticulum, from which ribosomes had been removed by treatment with pyrophosphate and citrate, bound over 50% of added polyribosomes, whereas the untreated (or control) rough and smooth endoplasmic reticulum and the smooth endoplasmic reticulum treated with pyrophosphate–citrate did not bind polyribosomes. (2) The polyribosome-binding capacity of rough endoplasmic reticulum stripped of its ribosomes decayed upon storage of the membranes at 0–4°C. The half-life of this decay was about 6 days whereas that of the polyribosome-binding capacity of hepatoma stripped rough endoplasmic reticulum was about 1.5 days. (3) Preparations of stripped rough endoplasmic reticulum after reassociation with polyribosomes in vitro were quite similar to preparations of native rough endoplasmic reticulum as viewed with the electron microscope. Evidence is presented to support the contention that association of polyribosomes with membranes was the result of polyribosomal reattachment to the membranes rather than trapping of the polyribosomes between vesicles of the membranes.
- © 1971 The Biochemical Society